Clause 193 - National security

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 21st January 2003.

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Photo of John Maples John Maples Conservative, Stratford-on-Avon 11:00 am, 21st January 2003

Of the three points that I raised, I probably consider this to be the most important. I will read carefully what the Minister has said, and I will consider the Bill. However, subsections (6) and (7) of clause 63 specifically refer to offences under the International Criminal Court Act 2001 and to

''genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes''.

Almost by definition, those crimes are committed by officials or functionaries of the state.

If I remember the Pinochet case rightly, the third decision of the House of Lords was that Pinochet's immunity as a Head of State would not have overridden the international convention against torture, had that convention been in operation at the

time of the offences that he was alleged to have committed. The offences with which the Spanish magistrate wanted to charge him occurred before the international convention against torture had been signed. If it had been the other way round, and the offences that he was alleged to have committed had occurred after the international convention against torture had been signed, his immunity as a Head of State would not have protected him from extradition. I seem to remember that that is what the House of Lords said.

I feel that there is a problem in that war crimes or crimes against humanity can be widely interpreted, especially if there is a political motivation for doing so. We may or may not approve of the political motivation in the Pinochet case, but we would not approve if a foreign magistrate were trying to get hold of one of our Ministers or officials. I am concerned that naming those offences in this Bill means that people who are charged with them will not necessarily be protected by the Acts that have been mentioned. I pray in aid, or at least ask the Minister to consider, the judgment in the Pinochet case, which seems to bear out what I am saying and not what he is arguing.